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UOA 51 - Russian, Slavonic and East European Languages

Keele University

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

UOA 51 Russian, Slavonic and East European Languages



Russian at Keele has long had an outstanding international reputation especially in the fields of nineteenth-century literature, feminist literary criticism, poetics and textual analysis. Since the 1970s this research expertise has been sustained and disseminated via regular Neo-Formalist conferences and the publication of Essays in Poetics, collaborative enterprises which have traditionally involved all members of the Russian unit at either editorial or organisational level. Within this context staff have developed their independent research interests, Joe Andrew having internationally acknowledged expertise in gender and Russian literature, nineteenth-century women writers and feminist approaches to culture, and Robert Reid in Lermontov, romanticism and philosophical approaches to culture. Andrew’s publications over the census period (a monograph, edited works, articles, book chapters, translations and reviews) total 56; Reid’s (edited works, book chapters and poetry translations) total 54.

Recruitment to Keele’s Russian honours programme ceased in 1999, the final cohort graduating in 2003. Since that time Andrew and Reid (Valentina Polukhina having retired in 2001), with the University’s full support, have successfully innovated in both teaching and research. Second and third-year modules on Russian literature and culture are now taught to an impressive range of disciplines (Criminology, English, History, Politics and International Relations), thus enabling the continuation of what the RAE 2001 feedback described as ‘the strong co-ordination between teaching and research activity’, despite the phasing out of the undergraduate Russian programme. They have been facilitated in this by Keele’s exceptionally flexible modular system and more recently by the development of a school structure, the amalgamation of humanities and social sciences into a single faculty and the creation of a Humanities Research Institute of which both Andrew and Reid are members.

Given this secure pedagogical foundation, Andrew and Reid have been able to continue and develop their research.  They have a research strategy
which, over the next five years, will see the publication of works on Russian cinema, politics and cinema, and dystopian film. Most of the Russian unit’s more recent postgraduates have been recruited via the many new modules taught through the disciplines listed above and indeed this area of the unit’s activity is very impressive, the current staff-PG ratio standing at 3:1. Thus the reservations expressed in the RAE 2001 feedback about the sustainability of research activity as a result of the ‘organisational changes which have affected [Russian at Keele]’ have proved quite unfounded. If anything, the reverse has been the case: teaching innovation has led directly to increased research activity.


Institutional Structures and Resources

From 2005/6 all research related activity at Keele has been organised and managed within Research Institutes (RIs). Their purpose is to encourage interdisciplinary research and to consolidate Keele’s standing as a research-led University with a strong tradition of excellence in defined research areas. As well as overseeing the supervision arrangements for postgraduate research students, RIs foster a high quality, supportive and managed research environment for both individual and collaborative researchers, including postgraduates. Andrew and Reid take an active administrative role in the Humanities RI, Andrew as a member of the RI Board and Reid as postgraduate co-ordinator for Modern Languages. The RI’s aim is to create a research culture that enables excellence in research both within and between disciplines and a structure that ensures the best use of QR funding and supports bids to external research bodies. The RI has a Director (Professor David Amigoni), a manager, an administrator and a PGR administrator. The RI Board includes representatives from all humanities disciplines as well as an external representative from Staffordshire County Council. The RI gathers information on funding opportunities and supports bids to research councils and external bodies. It co-ordinates conferences and research events and oversees the financial management of all funded research projects. It provides members with a basic research allowance, typically £500 p.a., and they may also bid for supplementary funds.  Research leave is co-ordinated through the RI in consultation with discipline groups. All members are eligible for one semester’s leave in eight. In addition, staff can apply for teaching relief to prepare bids or to finish projects, and research development leave is also available for a period of up to six weeks.

For Andrew and Reid the RI provides a valuable corporate context for their research; as a small unit they benefit in particular from the support available for grant applications and help in sustaining Russian’s vibrant postgraduate culture via the organisation of a Russian postgraduate seminar series and, most recently, a grant for postgraduate networking.

Keele Library has built up excellent research resources in Russian literature, criticism and theory. Russian retains its own budget for library ordering and maintains and updates materials required for both staff and postgraduate research. The Library subscribes to the major periodicals in the fields of Russian culture and poetics. RI funding is available for inter-library loans and research in major research libraries.


Research Structure and Profile of the Unit

In recent years, the successful functioning of Russian as a thriving research unit has owed much to effective professional collaboration by Andrew and Reid, both of whose research is broadly located in the nineteenth century. This has enabled them to maximise conference organisation, editorship and research planning within a common research context. Since the late nineties this strategy has been reflected in a series of high profile conferences on nineteenth-century Russian literary themes, building on the Neo-Formalist  tradition, with publication of papers in Essays in Poetics or elsewhere.  In the wake of the success of the commemorative conferences on Pushkin in 1999 and Platonov in 2000 Andrew and Reid have gone on to organise three more international conferences during the census period - on Gogol (2002), Chekhov (2004) and Turgenev (2006) - and are planning a Dostoevsky conference in 2008. During the same period eight joint-edited volumes based on the conferences have been published (Platonov [2002]; three volumes on Pushkin [2003-4], two on Gogol [2003-4] and two on Chekhov [2005-6]). Publication of the Turgenev conference volumes is scheduled for 2008 and publication will also be sought for the proceedings of the Dostoevsky conference in 2008.

These conferences and the publications they produce are genuinely international in character (attracting participants and contributors from the USA, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Holland, Poland, Russia, and elsewhere). Consistently favourable reviews in the leading Slavic journals of the collections from these conferences confirm that they make a substantial contribution to international discourse on Russian culture by bringing together a range of contemporary perspectives on a major literary figure. Moreover a core of regular contributors to these events, particularly those interested in structural analysis and close reading, contribute to the distinctive and coherent character of the critical methodology. By 2008 all the major figures of nineteenth-century Russian literature will have been covered by these conferences, apart from Lermontov, on whom Reid has published widely, and Tolstoy, the anniversary of whose death in 2010 makes him a likely conference subject for that year. It should also be pointed out that the volumes on Pushkin, Gogol and Chekhov (seven in all) have been edited solely by Andrew and Reid. Overall, this has been a very significant achievement.

The Humanities RI has offered further possibilities for collaboration in the field of comparative literature: an interest group has been formed, co-ordinated by Prof. James Knowles, Dean of the Graduate School, aimed at drawing together those with research interests in the nineteenth century.  This will make itself felt in both postgraduate teaching, and collaborative research.  On the international front Andrew has an ongoing editorial project with Finnish and American scholars on nineteenth-century women writers, with a commissioned book on ‘The Sisters Khvoshchinskaia’ to be published by Rodopi. Building on a long-standing relationship with the Institute of Literature in Sofia, a joint project, funded by the British Academy and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is under application (see Strategy, below).

Andrew and Reid have continued to develop their individual research interests: during the census period Andrew has published eight articles on gender and poetics in Russian literature and film, the most important of which are on Isaak Babel’s ‘The Song’, Stalinism in Burnt by the Sun, and narrative, gender and space in Kommissar, all in refereed journals. He has also published the book, Narrative, Space and Gender in Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2007). Reid has developed an interest in the philosophical dimension of literary criticism as applicable to Russian literature. Published examples are the use of Dilthey to explore historical themes in Pushkin, Gogol’s affinity with Stoicism and Bourdieu’s concept of habitus in relation to Chekhov. Reid has maintained his longstanding interest in Lermontov with two book chapters: one on the author’s genealogy and another on the nature of his romanticism.

Interdisciplinary Research Activity

Both Andrew and Reid have continued to develop their interdisciplinary research interests. In particular Andrew has already moved into film based research with three publications in this field out of which will grow two monographs, one on recent Russian Cinema, the other on ‘Politics and Cinema’. Andrew supervises undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations on cinema and Reid on dystopian literature and film in which he is developing research expertise with a view to future publication; this accords with the socio-philosophical trajectory of his recent publications in Russian. Postgraduate recruitment also reflects the cross-disciplinarity which is characteristic of the UoA. In broadening its research base in this way the unit is contributing actively to collaborative research activity both within humanities at Keele and between humanities and the social sciences.

Research Income

The unit’s strategy on external research funding has been to foreground projects related to international conference attendance. During the census period the unit received a total of £5991 in external funding. Andrew received the following British Academy grants: participation in XI Symposium of the International Dostoevsky Society, Baden-Baden, 2001, £260; research into The Khvoshchinskaia Sisters £4,146 (awarded 2002); participation in Poetics of Exile Conference in New Zealand, 2003, £600; participation in XIII Symposium of the International Dostoevsky Society, Budapest 2007, £300. Andrew also received 441 euros (£295 app.) from Groningen State University to participate in a symposium on ‘Representation of Body, Mind and Soul in Russian Literature and Culture’, Groningen, 2004. Reid received two British Academy grants: participation in XI Symposium of the International Dostoevsky Society, Baden-Baden, 2001, £260; participation in XII Symposium of the International Dostoevsky Society, Geneva, 2004, £130.

Outputs for the above include, in the case of Andrew, a chapter in Narrative, Space and Gender in Russian Fiction (Rodopi, 2007); a forthcoming co-edited book on the Khvoshchinskaia Sisters; ‘“Discipline and Punish”: The Body as a Site for Stalinism in Burnt by the Sun (Utomlennye solntsem)’ in Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, 54, 2004, pp. 351-72; two forthcoming papers on Dostoevsky’s Krotkaia. The papers delivered by Reid at the Dostoevsky conferences are chapters in Reid’s forthcoming Philosophical Approaches to Russian Literature.

Both Andrew and Reid
have additionally availed themselves of institutional financial support provided by the RI, typically for conference attendance and research resources via inter-library loans.

Staff and Students

Both Andrew and Reid have benefited from two semesters’ sabbatical leave during the census period (in 2001 and 2006). These have been used to progress their individual and collaborative publication activities. They have also received expert assistance from Keele IT services over the period in the preparation of electronic text for publication.

Andrew and Reid’s research reputation in Russian literature is reflected in its impressive record in the recruitment and retention of postgraduates. In the course of the census period the unit has produced eleven masters graduates (two AHRC funded) and three doctoral (two AHRC funded). In the current academic year (2007-8) we have two masters students and four doctoral students (two AHRC funded, one Keele funded and one self-funded). Research topics reflect both the unit’s traditional Russian-based research interests and an increasing tendency towards comparative literature. Thus last year’s two successful doctoral theses were on Prostitution in Nineteenth Century Russian Literature and Socialisation in Gulag and Holocaust Literature; among current doctoral topics are ‘The “Woman Question” in Russian, German and English Literatures in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century’, ‘The Portrayal of Women in Nineteenth-Century Russian and English Literature’ and ‘Modernity and the City in Russian and American Literature’. This interdisciplinarity is reinforced at doctoral level by joint supervision: our current doctoral students have, as well as a lead supervisor from Russian, an adjunct supervisor from German, English, American Studies and Politics according to the nature of their research – the recent consolidation of humanities research under the Humanities RI has facilitated this kind of co-operative endeavour.

Russian’s current postgraduates are all Keele graduates who have come to the unit via pathways which have incorporated Russian culture modules taught by Andrew and Reid. This exemplifies the strong connection between teaching and research in the unit. Russian language provision from beginners to advanced level is currently being taken by all Russian postgraduates and they are encouraged to take up placements on language courses in Russia. In addition, the majority of doctoral students in Russian have completed the Keele Masters in Research (MRes), again via a Russian pathway; as well as training in Russian, specifically tailored to postgraduate needs, MRes students also benefit from the generic research training in Humanities which is an integral part of the course and is delivered centrally by the RI. In addition to practical research and compositional skills (e.g. bibliographical techniques, research planning and grant application strategy) they also attend sessions on a range of conceptual areas central to research in the Humanities (critical theory; gender theory; historiography).

Keele has made a major capital investment in research in the Humanities and Social Sciences through the building of a dedicated facility costing £3.5m, to be named The Claus Moser Research Centre.  Ready for occupation in spring 2008, it will house the four Research Institutes in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Accommodation, including state of the art computing facilities, will be provided for research staff and associated PhD students, as well as for visiting academics, alongside seminar and meeting facilities. The Centre will house the support staff associated with all four Research Institutes, and is configured to facilitate interdisciplinary working   It is a major commitment by the University to developing research in the Humanities and Social Sciences.  

Postgraduates are well integrated into the academic life of the unit. A series of Russian research seminars brings together postgraduates and staff to discuss their work and Russian postgraduates are encouraged to attend and participate in a range of dissemination activities contributory to their career development. Among these are Keele’s own postgraduate symposium, overseen by the Graduate School, international conferences organised by Andrew and Reid and the annual BASEES conference (at the most recent of which Andrew and one of his postgraduates shared a panel). Postgraduates have also benefited from funding opportunities offered by the Keele Humanities Research Institute, one of them having secured a £500 grant in a networking competition to launch a Women in Literature forum commencing with a day conference at Keele in 2007.

The unit has an excellent record of recruiting from masters to doctoral: of the eleven masters graduates it produced during the census period six stayed on to continue their doctoral research in Russian at Keele.  


Projects which were promised in the 2001 narrative and have been delivered are as follows: the three volumes of conference papers which came out of an International Conference on Pushkin organised by Andrew and Reid in 1999 were published by Rodopi in 2003 and 2004; the papers of the Platonov Conference were published in 2001 and 2002 as Essays in Poetics Publications; the Gogol Conference took place in 2002 and the Chekhov Conference in 2004 and resulted in a total of four books. Of predicted publications Andrew’s collaborative volume on The Sisters Khvoshchinskaia is still being developed, partly as a consequence of  difficulties in accessing the relevant archives in Russia. Much of Reid’s anticipated Lermontov has in fact appeared in other published forms elsewhere. Andrew’s monograph on the Woman Question in Russia has been subsumed into Narrative, Space and Gender in Nineteenth-Century Russian Fiction which has been published by Rodopi, 2007 (195 pp.). Thus the research plans outlined in RAE 2001 have been substantially realised.

Andrew and Reid’s research strategy for the next five years will maintain their successful balance between collaborative and individual research. They are currently editing two volumes of papers from the conference they organised in 2006 (‘Turgenev and His Contemporaries’, Mansfield College, Oxford, 11-13 September). Publication will be with Rodopi, Amsterdam in 2008; Reid is completing a monograph, Philosophical Approaches to Russian Literature, to be published by Rodopi in 2008/9 – these will further consolidate the unit’s reputation in Russian literary studies. Andrew is writing two monographs on Politics and Cinema and Russian Cinema for publication during the 2008-12 period; these publications will help establish the unit as a research centre for film studies (Andrew already has three article/chapter publications in this field). Reid also plans research and publication in the field of dystopian film.

Discussions are under way to renew Keele Russian’s cultural link with the Institute for Literature at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. A proposal has been submitted to the British and Bulgarian Academies for funding (£9000) for a three-year research project on the nineteenth-century Russian canon which envisages a joint workshop in Sophia and international conferences on Dostoevsky
in 2008 and Tolstoy in 2010.  Outputs are anticipated to include edited books based on the two conferences and a collaborative volume on the nineteenth-century Russian literary canon. The Institute of Literature has a high reputation in Russian literary studies, particularly in the areas of formalist and structuralist criticism favoured by Keele’s Russian unit. This project will enable Andrew and Reid to locate their ongoing programme of specialist conferences on Russian writers in a new and congenial collaborative context.

It is planned to further nurture the unit’s innovative PG culture over the next few years, with the aim of consolidating the Russian unit’s reputation as a centre for research expertise in comparative and cross-disciplinary approaches to Russian culture. A doctoral student who commenced her study in autumn 2007 is researching Modernity and the City in Russian and American Literature. The three postgraduates Andrew is currently supervising, all working around the Woman Question in C19 Russia, already provide the core for a future bid for research funding for conferences/workshops and subsequent publication. Andrew has been a major force in setting up, administrating and teaching the new Media Culture and Communications (MCC) honours programme and the new MRes in the subject has recruited four students, two of which Andrew is supervising.

Esteem Indicators

Joe Andrew

1.Translation of work

‘“AA vak látni fog”: narráció és nemi szerep a Tamanyban’ in Ágnes Hansági and Zoltán Hermann eds, Újragondolni a Romantikát, Kijárat, Kiadó, 2003, pp. 267-95 (Hungarian Translation of ‘“The Blind Will See”: Narrative and Gender in Taman’’in  Russian Literature XXXI (1992), pp.449-476).

2. Conference Presentations

21 in all. Of these 7 have been overseas, 3 invited: International Dostoevsky Symposia: Baden-Baden, 2001, Geneva, 2004, Budapest, 2007. International Congress on Cultural Semiotics, Tartu University, 2002 (invited). New Perspectives on Tolstoy - conference at Harvard University, 2002 (invited). Typologies of Exile in Russian Literature - conference at University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2003. Representation of Body Mind and Soul in Russian Literature and Culture – international symposium at Groningen State University, 2004 (invited).

3. Editorial Roles

Co-editor of Essays in Poetics 1976-2006

4. Refereeing work

For Journal of Gender Studies, Modern Languages Journal, New Zealand Slavonic Journal, Russian Review, Slavic and East European Journal, Slavonic and East European Review, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema

5. Refereeing Research Grant Applications

For AHRC and British Academy; member of AHRC Peer Review Panel 2006-

6. Reviewing

For Modern Language Review, Russian Review, Slavic and East European Journal, Slavonic and East European Review, Slavonica

7. External Assessor for Chair Appointments

External Assessor for promotion at Harvard University - 2003/4
External Assessor for promotion and tenure appointment at Harvard University – 2006/7

8. External Examining

PhD examiner in the period at Sheffield (2001), Groningen (2005), Birmingham (2007) and Surrey (2007).

Robert Reid

1. Translation of work
Belfast Tune’ in Kak rabotaet stikhotvorenie brodskogo (ed L.V. Losev & V.P. Polukhina), Novoe Literaturnoe obozrenie, Moscow, 2002 [ISBN 5-867-93177-3]. 17 pp. 185-201 [essay in collection of essays on Brodsky]

‘Lermonty: Shotlandskie predki Lermontova’ in M.Iu. Lermontov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh, X: Letopis’ zhizni I tvorchestva M.Iu. Lermontova,  Voskresenie, Moscow, 2002, ed. V.V. Miliukov et al., pp. 372-392. [genealogical essay on Lermontov for the new 10-volume collected works]

2. Conference Presentations

9 conferences attended, 2 overseas (International Dostoevsky symposia in Baden-Baden 2001, Geneva 2004)

3. Editorial Roles

Co-editor of Essays in Poetics 1990-2006

4. Refereeing Work: Modern Language Review, Slavonic and East European Review